JOYCE AND HEIDEGGER: APPROPRIATIONS OF THE PAST TOWARD A NEW PHILOSOPHY OF TRANSCENDENCE.
Critics have long argued, to various ends, that Stephen Dedalus the character carries autobiographical marks of James Joyce the man (Gorman 1924; Gilbert 1955; Budgen 1960; Kenner 1955; Ellman 1983; King 1999; Larrissy 2006). While such arguments may have gotten off to a bad start due to critics' early tendency to obsess over Joyce's explicit or incidental expressions of inspiration--as William M. Schutte (1957) argues--they do, nevertheless, provide the grounds from which we can explore the metafictional nature of Stephen Dedalus across several works as he attempts to construct his own unique artist-persona. Stephen's work of self-creation should be read as a process of transcendence, one with serious philosophical implications that are expressed throughout Joyce's literary project. It will be shown how Stephen appears as a character divided against himself, and the question for us as we face this struggle is how Stephen's particular fissure expresses an opportunity for transcendence, and especially the way in which Stephen himself is portrayed as performing a transvalued transcendent movement that is best understood as one carried out toward a horizon in time. These philosophical transvaluations of the concept of transcendence bring Joyce's writing about Stephen into relation with another figure, that of Martin Heidegger. Stephen Dedalus, in his struggle, in his attempt to understand himself and his own being as a self-creator, is a singularly ontological character in Heidegger's sense of a being whose own being is an issue for it (Heidegger 2010). While there is recent criticism interpreting Joyce's depiction of Stephen through Shakespeare (King 1999; Dallenbach 1989), there has been very little concern for the way in which Joyce depicts Stephen's particularly historical struggle as fundamentally tied to his unique philosophy of history--a philosophy that this essay shows to be derived from a synthesis of Aristotle and William Blake and which radically transforms the concept of "transcendence" into a fundamentally immanent and horizonal phenomenon. This philosophical historicism, and the weight that it places on the creation of a new language as a sign of historical movement and self-overcoming, is another point of concurrence between the philosophical aspect of Stephen's character and the work of Heidegger, particularly his Dasein analysis. In many ways, the analysis of Stephen's struggle reveals a remarkable anticipation of Heidegger's Dasein analysis, and the philosophical value of literature in its own right, in its own language.
To show that Joyce uses his depiction of Stephen as a foil by which a unique philosophy of history can be articulated, I will proceed in three steps. First, I will show the role of Blake in Joyce's depiction of Stephen's developing philosophy of history. Second, the same must be done for the importance of Aristotle to this budding philosophical view. The third step involves a synthesis of Blake and Aristotle, carried out by Stephen as he matures in a philosophy that recognizes the ontological significance of history in determining possibilities of transcendence, a concept thereby transvalued into a temporally immanent transcendence--just as we see in Heidegger's work. I will clarify Joyce's philosophical historicism through a close reading of Stephen's struggle to transcend the predetermined identifications offered within his own historical situation, and demonstrate throughout my analysis that Joyce the modernist actually prefigures the important philosophical insights usually associated with postmodern theory, and with Heidegger in particular; a name curiously absent from the landmark 1996 collection Joyce and the Subject of History. Finally, after Joyce's philosophy of history has been laid out according to the three steps above, and the nature of he and Heidegger's transvaluation of transcendence has been elucidated, I will show how Joyce projects these philosophical insights onto the turmoil Stephen experiences as he tries to reconcile himself to his historical context, a struggle that is carried out between the poles of Stephen's understanding of Blake on the one hand and Aristotle on the other. By depicting Stephen as executing a post-Kantian synthesis of two past thinkers, Joyce is able to articulate new insights in the gap opened by his depictions of Stephen between Blake and Aristotle, just as Heidegger himself does through a synthesis of Aristotle, Nietzsche, and certain German national poets such as Holderlin and Rilke.
To be clear, I will not argue for a direct link or inspiration between Joyce and Heidegger. Heidegger did not speak or read English and there is no evidence to my knowledge that Joyce was familiar with Heidegger's work. In any event, Ulysses predates Being and Time by five years--the first German translation of Ulysses appeared in 1927, the same year Being and Time was published. What I will argue is that there is a significant family resemblance between the two thinkers on the ontological importance of history, which points to a reconfiguration of transcendence as immanent in time. Joyce expresses this through the struggle of his semi-autobiographical character, Stephen, who is developed in a coherent manner over several creative works and whose understanding of history is staked out between Blake and Aristotle. Certainly, later thinkers, those so-called "postmoderns," are deeply influenced by both Heidegger and Joyce. The influence of Heidegger on Derrida is undeniable, but less well known is the fact, reported by Calvin O. Schrag, that while at Harvard together in the formative period of the late 1950s, Derrida spent more time reading Ulysses in the Lamont Library than he did studying existential quantifiers (2010, 27-28). Deleuze, who thought through Heidegger to the end, is famous for attending only two academic conferences, one of which was on Joyce. Part of my arguments here show that it is no coincidence that such formative thinkers share these mutual interests. Joyce, through Stephen's struggle to self-identify qua a philosophical understanding of history, seems to have executed his own striking Dasein analysis--one that arrives independently at some of the same philosophical insights regarding history and transcendence as did Heidegger. Thus, literature itself becomes philosophical in its own right, on its own terms.
The historical understanding of the fissure in Stephen's character is commonly understood as the growing rift between his traditional Irish-Catholic up-bringing structured upon Aristotelian-Aquinian foundations, and the burgeoning Irish desire for freedom; freedom from the British, yes, but for Stephen, also a freedom from the very traditionalism that underscores his worldview (Gibson 2002). As Stephen is pulled between these poles, between the strict adherence to the traditions into which he was raised and a mad flight into the absolute freedom of artistic creativity, we see him searching for answers and considering alternative philosophies (and philosophers) with which he might transcend the rigid formalisms that he learned as a young man and which continue to shape his thought. One of the alternative worldviews that Stephen finds to be a compelling answer to the traditions of his past is a philosophy of history he reads in William Blake. We can see here that Stephen is shown by Joyce to be treating these philosophies very much as explicit worldviews, Gestell, in Heidegger's sense (1977), which serve as framing devices by which Stephen attempts to makes sense of the world and his historical place in it. The reason Stephen finds Blake so appealing is because he interprets Blake as an historical nihilist. That is, Stephen thinks Blake treats history as an agreed upon fiction, an abyss of meaning within which Stephen might be freed to re-create himself as he sees fit, "in his own image" as it were, and thereby, in an act of transcendence, escape the guilt he feels over his mother's death and the obligations foisted upon him by the many religious and political institutions that dominate the Irish cultural landscape.
Against this historical nihilism stands Aristotle, the traditional philosopher with whom Stephen most identifies. Aristotle offers a version of tradition that is the most acceptable to Stephen. Being a pre-Christian Greek, Aristotle does not come with the religious baggage Stephen would like to leave behind. However, because of the central place of Aristotelian philosophy in the works of the Church Fathers, and St. Thomas Aquinas in particular, (1) Aristotle remains for Stephen a stalwart of institutional authority, integrity, and a source of absolutism that is utterly absent from what he sees as Blake's destructive historical ontology. Like two cartoon angels on either shoulder, Aristotle and William Blake serve as competitive models for Stephen, each vying for dominance as Stephen grapples with his dream of forging a new identity for himself as a free spirited artist flying beyond the confines of traditionalism in the transcendent act of self-creation by which he might sever his ties to Ireland, his family, and his past.
Recent scholarship on the relationship between Joyce and Blake focuses largely on Finnegans Wake to the exclusion of the earlier works in which we find Stephen struggling to re-create himself in the yet undiscovered mold of the new Irish artist (Adams 2007, 1998). Edward Larrissy (2006) has approached the role Blake plays in the formation of Stephen's identity and his transcendent movement in Stephen Hero and Portrait of the Artist of a Young Man, but he does not adequately attend to the transcendent culmination of the "Circe" episode in Ulysses. Larrissy's focus understandably prohibits a close reading of the way in which Joyce develops Stephen's idiosyncratic philosophy of history, because such focus is driven by the question of the relationship between Stephen Hero and Portrait of the Artist and an analysis of Stephen's historicism requires intertextual considerations beyond these earlier works and into Ulysses. However, Stephen's philosophy of history is key to his identity formation and is inspired by Blake, but in which Blake's nihilistic potential is tempered by Stephen's desire to return to Aristotle, as I will show, in order to overcome Christianity from the ground up. The main textual source for my interpretation is Ulysses, in particular the episodes "Nestor" and "Circe," the latter of which is recognized by Larrissy, albeit cursorily, for its transcendental potential. For establishing the importance of Blake and Aristotle, "Nestor" will be the most helpful, and to show Stephen's renunciation in preparation for transcendence we must turn to the climactic scene in "Circe" wherein Stephen breaks the chandelier and is transformed into the image of his mother in the eyes of Leopold Bloom, and then into Rudy, Bloom's dead infant son. Along the way, Portrait of the Artist will provide illustrative examples and background details that will prove invaluable to our overall understanding of Stephen's struggle throughout the larger text of Ulysses.
2. WILLIAM BLAKE'S ROLE IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF STEPHEN DEDALUS
Before delving too far into a close reading of Stephen's developing philosophy of history, it will be good to rehearse a bit of what we know regarding Joyce's reading of Blake. Since it is clear that Joyce uses Stephen as an autobiographical foil, the analysis should emphasize how Joyce himself was inspired, since this inspiration is not projected wholesale onto Stephen. Stanislaus Joyce recounts that Blake was among his brother's "gods" (1958, 33) and notes that it was "Yeats's edition of the Blake poems" (99) with which the modernist was enamored. There have been excellent studies regarding the influence on Joyce of the Yeats and Ellis interpretation of Blake (Larrissy 2006; Gleckner 1982; Curran 1968; Boldereff 1965), and these studies all agree that the idea of appropriating Blake as an Irish poet was seductive to Joyce. There is also the tension in this reading--a tension born out in Joyce's depictions of Stephen's historical thinking--that Blake emphasizes the sensual, the passing, the products of time, and yet, he also strives toward the eternal in a sort of inverse Platonism (Larrissy 2006, 58). Heidegger was himself invested in German national literature (for very different reasons), attested in his long-time interest in Holderlin, Rilke, and Trakl, among others, and like Joyce was deeply invested in the Romantic inversion of Platonism, particularly as he read it in Nietzsche (1991a, 1991b). For Heidegger, this inversion meant not merely a reversal, or a changing of theoretical positions, but a destruction, a deconstruction, of the old transcendental model in the overcoming of Platonist idealism--ontotheology, in his terms. This destruction is played out on the literary stage as well in Stephen's struggle, and the inversion, as we will see, finds its destructive resolution in the shattering of the chandelier in the "Circe" episode. This shared tendency toward an inversion of the transcendental order plays into both Joyce and Heidegger's experimental modernism, in which, as Richard Sheppard has indicated of European modernism in general, the authors perceive "that contemporary European culture was experiencing the subversion of the most fundamental assumptions and conceptual models on which the liberal humanist epoch had been based" (1993, 13). Insofar as Joyce and Heidegger are actively participating in this subversion, we can see that the thinkers appropriate and transform conceptual schemes from earlier thinkers in order to exacerbate the crisis of the old and clear space for a radically new vision. This link, particularly where their linguistic experimentation is concerned, has been fruitfully examined in several studies (Gilbert 2011; Bruns 1989, 1970). However, these critical encounters have focused largely on Finnegans Wake due to the extremity of Joyce's linguistic experimentation and its relation to Heidegger's elevation of poetics to ontology. Here, I want to focus less on the experimental language, and more on the Dasein analysis I see functioning in both authors--the analysis of the being who takes its own being as an issue. For Joyce, this ontological potential is already in Blake, as Heidegger saw it in Holderlin and Nietzsche, and the appropriation of Aristotle in Ulysses is used to depict Stephen's struggle as part of this transformative (transvaluative) process, one that reaches behind the back of Christianity in order to re-imagine the philosophical underpinnings of its theology, stripping them of their theological dimension, which is supplanted by the weight of history. As we will see, this move is very close to one executed by Heidegger, a lapsed Catholic, who himself pursued a "painful separation" from Christianity through a creative engagement with the Greeks, and with Aristotle in particular (Heidegger 2006, 366-69).
Thus, Stephen's character is developed in several ways, predominantly by a synthesis of Blake and Aristotle that achieves an immanent transcendence within an historical horizon (a point that is not fully grasped by Larrissy) and also by allowing Stephen's character to progress from a sophomoric understanding of Blake into a more philosophically robust historical understanding; that is, sometimes Joyce shows Stephen to be a poor reader of his own imagined canon. With this general picture in mind, a close reading of Stephen's development will illuminate the role of a philosophy of history in understanding the resolution of Stephen's fractured psychological profile and the emergence of an imminent transcendence between Blake and Aristotle that prefigures the postmodern historicism that dominates philosophy after Heidegger.
"Nestor," the second episode of Ulysses, begins in the middle of Stephen's history lecture on Pyrrhus (319/18-272 BCE), the king of Epirus whose battles, though considered victories, were won with casualties so great that the gains achieved seemed of questionable value (Joyce 1986, 20). We are firmly within Stephen's point of view as he becomes distracted from the answers provided by his students and begins ruminating on a theory of history that illustrates the appeals of Blake's supposed historical nihilism on the one hand, and yet the desire for the absolute truths offered through Aristotelianism on the other. Two passages are significant in showing Stephen's philosophy of history.
The first is very early, running from lines 7-10: "Fabled by the daughters of memory. And yet it was in some way if not as memory fabled it. A phrase, then, of impatience, thud of Blake's wings of excess. I hear the ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry, and time one livid final flame. What's left us then?" (Joyce 1986, 20). That the passage ends on a question is significant, and the invocation of Blake's name together with "excess" and the "ruin of all space" even more so. Here too, in the prefiguration of the shattered chandelier, the resonance with Heidegger, who spoke of the Dasein's being as a clearing and likened it time and again across all of his later writings to the illumined space opened by a fire. Joyce alludes in the passage above to Blake's lost artwork, Vision of the Last Judgment, of which only descriptions survive. Concerning its design and significance, Blake writes,
The Last Judgment is not Fable or Allegory but Vision. Fable or Allegory are a totally distinct & inferior kind of Poetry. Vision, or Imagination, is a Representation of what Eternally Exists, Really & Unchangeably. Fable or Allegory is Formd by the daughters of Memory. Imagination is Surrounded by the daughters of Inspiration, who in the aggregate are called Jerusalem. Fable is Allegory, but what Critics call Fable is Vision itself." (Blake 1997, 554)
The daughters of Memory form Fable or Allegory, which Blake identifies with one another. We must reach back to ancient Greece to find the nine Muses from Mnemosyne, the daughters of Memory, in distinction from the daughters of Inspiration, whom Blake associates with Vision and brings together under the general name "Jerusalem." Indeed, Heidegger himself identifies memory and Mnemosyne with "reaching back" and gathering together in thought that which demands or calls us to think--specifically to think poetically (1976, 10-12). Imagination, for Heidegger, is not merely the holding together of what has gone before, but is itself a transcendental root of both understanding and sensibility, and thus imagination is the ground whereby ontological thought itself becomes possible; it is Vision itself, in Blake's terms (1997, 97-99).
We must be careful. Here, we see Blake speaking favorably of what "Eternally Exists, Really & Unchangeably" in contradistinction to Fable and Allegory. Surely, it is this version of artistic Vision that draws Stephen to Blake's thought. He realizes that things are "in some way if not as memory fabled it" (Joyce 1986, 20). However, Stephen does not want to follow his Catholic upbringing into the world of transcendence where Eternal Reality exists as God, the Supreme Being and Lawgiver, who rules over Stephen's soul in judgment. Heidegger too, senses something is being misremembered by the history of philosophy, by ontotheology that makes the fundamental mistake of forgetting the question of being and misconstruing the ontological being of beings as just some Supreme Being, or giant entity that rules over all particular things. As Joyce depicts Stephen, he has, from the beginning, sought to be a selfcreating artist, his own mother and father. His desire to be free and unfettered rings out in Portrait of the Artist, where Stephen famously muses, "When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets" (Joyce 2003, 220). Earlier in that same work, Stephen had felt exultant at the prospect of being alone, "He was alone unheeded, happy and near to the wild heart of life. He was alone and young and wilful, wild-hearted, alone amid a waste of wild air and brackish waters" (185). It is clear from these passages that Stephen is not necessarily opposed to what Eternally Exists as such, it is just that he rejects the idea that what Eternally Exists is thrust upon him from some outside authority. Like Blake (and Heidegger), Stephen seeks an artistic-poetic Vision from which the Eternal arises from within himself and by which he is raised above the fetters of society, culture, and law in its many forms--just as authentic Dasein rises above the idle chatter and habitual behavior of the mass-cultural "They" that typically dominates its being (Heidegger 2010, 122-26; 161-64). All these authors seek this transformation through an appropriation of past thinkers and artists, transforming traditional understandings into their own unique vision, although, at least at first, Stephen does not seem willing to acknowledge his debt to history.
We find a ready analogue to Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Of particular note are those "Proverbs of Hell" in which Blake speaks favorably of excess, and to which Joyce alludes by having Stephen think of the "thud of Blake's wings of excess." First, Blake's excess is expressed in the well-known proverb, "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" (Blake 1977, 183). (2) From this proverb, taken up earnestly by Stephen, we could infer an answer to the question "what is left?" Stephen imagines Blake intoning "wisdom," perhaps even retaining the voice of the Devil. The question then shifts slightly. Stephen must ask, "what is the wisdom so spoken through the Devil?" It would be the Satanic rebelliousness, and the fundamental responsibility for creation that comes with it, a responsibility that comes to Stephen with much difficulty; for if he really wants to be his own self-creator, he must begin seeking answers within his own self. Once he has stepped upon the road of wisdom Blake speaks through the Devil, he cannot simply abdicate the necessity of finding his own way along that path. To anticipate a little, this insight prefigures Heidegger's analysis in Being and Time, where human beings are responsible for taking over their own grounding, though it is a ground they did not originally choose for themselves, an historical ground into which they are thrown, but within which they must, nevertheless, resolutely take up their own potential as they make their way in the world (2010).
In another of the "Proverbs of Hell," Blake writes, "No bird soars too high. if he soars with his own wings" (1977, 183). An immediate connection ought to be made between this proverb and Stephen Dedalus' name. (3) Stephen wants to soar on his own wings, but the question he poses after invoking Blake shows Stephen's reticence to take the plunge, the "leap" in Heidegger's terms (2013, 247; 2012, 179-227, 240) along the path of self-creative wisdom. Perhaps Stephen fears the excessive heights that doomed Icarus, afraid of the self-destruction that clears the way for self-creation. However, Stephen's namesake is Daedalus, who had himself built the wings. In a sense, Stephen does not grasp the power of his own name. Icarus had not soared on his own wings, and, because he did not know the secrets of their design, he did not heed his father's warnings. However, Daedalus, the designer of the wings and holder of their secrets, knew very well their powers--and their limitations--thus he kept himself from soaring too high; indeed, he did not soar too high because he was the bird who soared on his own wings. But Stephen himself does not make this connection, perhaps, in his moment of carelessness (thoughtlessness), revealing himself as a modification of the Greek tragic hero who suffers from a fatal flaw of which he has no knowledge. We the readers might catch a glimpse of Stephen's flaws, as Joyce gives us ample clues, and we are thereby likened to the audience and chorus of the Ancient Greeks, who were all very much aware of the flawed nature of their hero. Joyce sees Stephen as a hero of sorts, as reflected in the titled of the uncompleted work Stephen Hero, which would become Portrait of the Artist after considerable revision and re-imagining.
3. THE APPROPRIATION OF ARISTOTLE IN STEPHEN'S PHILOSOPHICAL VISION
We know Stephen has left us with a question, and he is then distracted from his contemplation by the practical matters at hand, namely, the history class he is supposed to be teaching. It says something about Stephen's character that I have taken up what, for him at least, should be a distraction. By any outside account, Stephen ought to be concerned with his class and with the students that are there in front of him. But we are not given an outside account--Joyce places us firmly in Stephen's perspective and he takes his abstract rumination very seriously. The practical matter, his class, becomes the distraction while the distraction of his wandering mind is placed front and center as the matter of most urgent concern. When his thoughts are disrupted we must be careful to note that Stephen is being "distracted" from a distraction, though one he takes more seriously than any practical matter at hand.
When Stephen next takes up the theme of history, he does so with the content of his lecture more concretely in mind. He thinks, "Had Pyrrhus not fallen by a bedlams hand in Argos or Julius Caesar not been knifed to death. They are not to be thought away. Time has branded them and fettered they are lodged in the room of the infinite possibilities they have ousted. But can those have been possible seeing that they never were? Or was that only possible which came to pass? Weave, weaver of the wind" (Joyce 1986, 21). Fatalism can be read in Stephen's thinking. Time has branded and fettered those people appearing in history. Infinite possibilities have been ousted. Yet, Stephen does not want to give up on alternative possibilities, he does not want to throw out the "what ifs" of historical speculation about what might have been. The philosophical question of "possibility" rears up in Stephen's thoughts. What does it mean to be "possible," can we say that "possibilities exist," or is what exists only that which has actually come to pass, or, as Stephen puts it, "can those have been possible seeing that they never were?" Answers to these kinds of questions are not found in Stephen's reading of Blake. Instead, we find Stephen turning explicitly to Aristotle.
It must be a movement then, an actuality of the possible as possible. Aristotle's phrase formed itself within the gabbled verses and floated out into the studious silence of the library of Saint Genevieve where he had read, sheltered from the sin of Paris, night by night. By his elbow a delicate Siamese conned a handbook of strategy. Fed and feeding brains about me: under glowlamps, impaled, with faintly beating feelers: and in my mind's darkness a sloth of the underworld, reluctant, shy of brightness, shifting her dragon scaly folds. Thought is the thought of thought. Tranquil brightness. The soul is in a manner all that is: the soul is the form of forms. Tranquility sudden, cast, candescent: form of forms. (Joyce 1986, 21)
Stephen's acknowledgment of movement refers us to Book III, Part One of Aristotle's Physics, where the philosopher writes, "It is the fulfillment of what is potential when it is already fulfilled and operates not as itself but as moveable, that is motion" (1995, 343). Aristotle goes on to explain that bronze may have the potential to become a statue. Bronze, in its self-identity (bronze as bronze), is not motion. Bronze is not identical with its potential forms or uses. Rather, the movement from one form, one mode of being, to another comes along with the fulfillment of potential. Thus, when the artist achieves her ends and the shapeless bronze is cast in the mold of a statue we can see the movement from the merely possible to an actuality of the possible. Aristotle thus identifies potentiality with movement when he writes, "clearly it is the fulfillment of what is potential as potential that is motion" (343). It is this line that Joyce has Stephen translate as the "actuality of the possible as possible."
The other element of Aristotelian philosophy that comes to Stephen's mind is much more difficult to work out. It comes from Aristotle's Metaphysics, Book XII, Part Nine, where the divine is addressed. There, Aristotle famously writes,
both thinking and the act of thought will belong even to one who has the worst of thoughts. Therefore if this ought to be avoided (and it ought, for there are even some things which it is better not to see than to see), the act of thinking cannot be the best of things. Therefore it must be itself that thought thinks (since it is the most excellent of things), and its thinking is a thinking on thinking. (Aristotle 1995, 1698)
First, we must pay attention to the normative quality of Aristotle's argument here. There are better and worse things about which we could think. Normativity is comforting to Stephen in this instance, as he had been left only with questions and no answers after considering Blake. Further, the thinking that "is a thinking on thinking" is a specifically divine way to approach thought itself, a kind of reified thinking that ensures we will be thinking about the right thing, or at least it guards us from slipping into the wrong kinds of thoughts. This reified thinking also connects Stephen with the divine and thereby to creation, which is his ultimate desire, to be self-creator. Again, Stephen will find support for this desire in Aristotelian philosophy, and exactly where that philosophy addresses the divine. We can see the self-referential (read: self-centered) aspect of Stephen's philosophizing becoming prominent here. By using Aristotle, Stephen is hoping to give himself the theoretical grounds on which to make his final separation from the world and his worldly dependencies on friends and family. He wants to be his own "Unmoved Mover," to use the Aristotelian phrase. To use the language of Heideggerian Dasein analysis, Stephen seeks in this mover unmoved the grounds of authentic being--a resolute and self-chosen actualization of his potential that frees him from inauthentic being in a "They" self which is determined for him by a cultural-historical milieu into which he has been thrown (Heidegger 2010, 112-26).
Aristotle addresses this unmoved mover in the Metaphysics, and this is important to us because of the clear connection made earlier between motion and possibility. Joyce was certainly an astute reader of Greek philosophy, such that he could seamlessly weave these complex themes into the space of a single paragraph. The paragraph appears perplexing at first glance, but a close reading reveals a meditation on change, potentiality, and the nature of being--again, Stephen, performs a Dasein analysis of his own, being the kind of being whose very being is an issue for him. For instance, in the Metaphysics, Aristotle claims that the actuality of the cosmos (the heavens, but really of all things) is motion (thus, is potential, possibility), then "insofar as they are in motion, in this respect they are capable of being otherwise" (1995, 1694). This quote links up perfectly with what we have already discussed regarding the identity of motion and potentiality as the "actuality of the possible as possible." With this connection made, I will provide a somewhat lengthy quote from Aristotle's Metaphysics so that the full implications of Stephen's theory of history can be analyzed:
There is... something which is always moved with an unceasing motion, which is motion in circle; and this is plain not in theory but in fact. Therefore the first heavens must be eternal. There is therefore also something which moves them. And since that which is moved and moves is intermediate, there is a mover which moves without being moved, being eternal, substance, and actuality. And the object of desire and the object of thought are the same. For the apparent good is the object of appetite, and the real good is the primary object of wish. But desire is consequent on opinion rather than opinion on desire; for the thinking is the starting-point. And thought is moved by the object of thought; and in this, substance first, and in substance, that which is simple and exists actually. (Aristotle 1995, 1694)
The above passage is, arguably, Aristotle's most robust statement on the unmoved mover. And yet, it is not an absolutely abstract consideration either. Objects of desire are made an immediate concern, as is the apparent good as the object of appetite. My concern here has been Stephen's conflicting desires. He wants to be free, to be his own mother and father, and yet he also desires the certitude of absolutes, a normative structure on which to ground his own road to wisdom. He wants desperately to fly on his own wings, and yet he is afraid of the risks entailed by such a leap and is thereby constrained at every turn by those very societal norms he wishes to overcome. Such tensions are the themes of literary modernism par excellence, although Joyce has rendered them through Stephen with exceptional depth and philosophical fortitude. There is a serious dilemma being painted here, one that spans the entire canon of Western thought, from the Ancient Greeks up to and through the Romantic poets and beyond Joyce in Heidegger. In the character of Stephen Dedalus, Joyce has represented the conflict of the history of Western metaphysics and shown a deep and troublesome contradiction oscillating at its heart, here being expressed circumspectly as a mover that is unmoved. Again, this systematic overhaul of the Western canon resonates with Heidegger's critique of Western metaphysics as ontotheology, and Heidegger was himself a former Catholic who returned to Aristotle's theory of movement in his desire to retrieve a more original understanding of time in order to execute his own transvaluation of metaphysical doctrines. This is significant where Stephen's struggle with transcendence and his desire to seek repose in a mover unmoved is concerned. Heidegger famously thought that metaphysics gets off to a bad start by thinking "being," the very opening into which any particular being could stand forth, as itself just another being or entity. The consequence of this ontotheology is that transcendence became interpreted as a stepping-over toward some transcendent being; some Supreme Being or entity that was super-worldly, out there somewhere in a supernatural ether, or else was represented as the domain of all domains, the aggregate totality of all that exists. By interpreting being as time, Heidegger strove to articulate an immanent transcendence, now understood as futural movement in time, the very act of over-stepping itself (2012, 160-66). Thus, if Nietzsche is the thinker who most opens Finnegans Wake (Mitchell 2002; Altizer 1985), it may be that Heidegger's existential analysis offers the keys to open Stephen's struggle with and within history. Certainly, the connection between Heidegger and Nietzsche on the transvaluation of "transcendence" cannot be ignored. From his appropriated position, internalizing unmoving mover, we can see that Stephen executes his own transvaluation, one operating along his synthesis of Aristotle and Blake. He seeks comfort in this synthesis, though his comfort is thwarted by his own movement.
4. JOYCE AND HEIDEGGER'S CREATIVE APPROPRIATIONS
Stephen seeks a comfortable repose within an unmoved mover: "Thought is the thought of thought," he says. "Tranquil brightness. The soul is in a manner all that is: the soul is the form of forms. Tranquility sudden, cast, candescent: form of forms" (Joyce 1986, 21). We are brought back to Blake, back to the marriage of heaven and hell with Stephen the usurper of the divine creation, his soul divine, the form of forms, the font of creation from which the motion, the very potential of all things, flows. Despite his Catholic upbringing, despite his religious education where he learned Aristotle in the first place, Stephen is ineluctably drawn toward Blake's romantic Vision. For Stephen, Aristotle is not quite enough to combat these tendencies, in part because Aristotle is himself a source on which Stephen draws inspiration for his own creation. No matter how Catholicism has appropriated him, Aristotle is not a Christian philosopher. He is pagan, of the pre-Christian era, and when he says "god" (ho theos, the god) it is not the Christian divinity of which he speaks. Christian translators may capitalize "God" when they read theos in Aristotle, but there is no such grammatical formalization to be found in the Greek. Indeed, Stephen can be read as having gone back to the pre-Christian era in his own attempt to overcome Christianity from the ground up, as Heidegger has done. If he is successful, Stephen can usurp the traditional role of God and internalize it, himself becoming that calm and tranquil center of the cosmos from which all things, and especially all values, flow. He would be the designer and operator of his own wings. Philosophically, this modernist depiction resonates with post-Kantian thought in which the dominance of the subject as the source of value and thorough historicization emerges in the wake of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Husserl, and later Heidegger (Lewis 2007, 6-7).
Stephen is drawn to Blake's Vision, that imaginative poetry surrounded by the Daughters of Inspiration. As I point out above, this Vision is, according to Blake, symbolic of what exists eternally and unchangeably. However, when Stephen turns to Aristotle in order to appropriate an idea of the eternal, he finds eternal change. Motion and potentiality pervades all things and only the unmoved mover stands at the calm center of the cosmos. Stephen has not been able to escape the call of responsibility through his flight from Blake to Aristotle. Aristotle's normativity appears like a comfortable and solid ground, but given Stephen's desire to be his own creator, he assumes this responsibility the minute he takes up the mantle of mover unmoved. Nevertheless, it is not clear that Stephen understands the situation into which he has placed himself. The "could have been otherwise" is preserved, but it is preserved at a cost; it is now Stephen himself who must decide how it is to be. He has become the designer of his own labyrinth. There is a way out, though it may be that Stephen has not yet seen the completion of his own design.
Stephen is diverted away from Blake and Aristotle by an allusion to the Gospels, Matthew 22:21, "To Caesar what is Caesar's, to God what is God's" (Joyce 1986, 22). What of that which is Stephen's? Where has he gone? Again, he has recoiled away from the necessity of making his own way--recoiled from the object of his own thoughts and desires. He is not yet ready for the painful separation that is required of him if he is to really pursue his own self-creation. He tries to occupy himself with a game, with the idle chatter of his pupils, and a riddle. The first riddle is too familiar, the second proves too disturbing. "The cock crew, / The sky was blue: / The bells in heaven / Were striking eleven. / 'Tis time for this poor soul/ To go to heaven," that is the riddle to which Stephen gives the answer, "The fox burying his grandmother under a hollybush." After answering his own riddle, Stephen gives "a shout of nervous laughter" and Joyce describes his dismay as being echoed in his students' cries (23). Stephen has made a slight modification to the riddle: he says "grandmother" instead of "mother" to mask the guilt he feels over his mother's death. In this roundabout way, which Stephen has made every effort to avoid and blockade, he arrives back at his family ties and to his situation in the world of the historically actual. It could hardly be otherwise. In his analysis of Stephen's identity formation in relation to Shakespeare, John King astutely recognizes that Stephen's inner dialogue at this point only deepens and intensifies his identity crisis (1999, 306). I have been drawing out a similar insight, though here in relation to Blake and Aristotle. We can readily tie this to Joyce's modernist impulses, whereby the role of the Unmoved Mover is internalized by the post-Kantian Stephen, who is trying--at this point in vain--to act as if he is the sole creator of his own fate. However, he has history to reckon with and cannot see himself entirely clear of the tangle of significations and referents upon which he strives to erect his own design. We must then ask, is Stephen's project even possible? A cursory answer would probably be "no," Stephen cannot make this utter break from the world and from history. Is that really what he wants though? So far, I have been treating Stephen as a fairly strict idealist. There is ample room in the text for this interpretation. I have already noted Stephen's starry-eyed endorsement of the soul as the form of forms, associated with tranquility and repose. This formulation has been cast as being against Blake, who Stephen reads as an historical nihilist. What has not yet been considered is that Stephen's reading of Blake is actually rather bad. After all, Blake's Vision is a vision of the eternally true and unchanging. Even in Aristotle, to whom Stephen turns for some authoritative and systemic truth, we can see that what never changes is the fact that there is change, that the potential of the world is bound up in its very movement. The truth is, as Joyce portrays him, Stephen does not really understand a thing he's thinking. He seems to think, and yet, thought eludes him. He is not really thinking, and certainly not thinking about thinking in the way Aristotle intends. Thus, we might make a negative judgment about Stephen's thoughts. Perhaps most thought-provoking, as Heidegger says, is that Stephen is still not thinking (1976, 4). What he manages to "think" is not so much a strategy, a way out of the confines of his cultural predicament, but is instead a symptom of his paralysis, of his inability to commit, even to himself. He therefore becomes stuck at every turn and comes back again to those old systems with which he is familiar: Christianity, the plight of being "Irish," and guilt, in this instance, guilt over the death of his mother.
Stephen moves with an "unceasing motion," which Aristotle had said, was "motion in circle." He oscillates between two relative extremes, that of his absolute escape into self-creation, and that of his self-abandonment to the powers that be, church and state, Caesar and God. If Stephen is himself the center of this oscillation, then he does not move; he is unmoved, he is paralyzed while the world spins about him. He leaves himself no other choice. However, there may be a way for Stephen to enter the flow of motion without totally surrendering his own identity. There could be a way, which Stephen does not see, by which he could self-create through the actualization of some potentiality. In such a fulfillment, Stephen might free himself from guilt, and also from certain social influences, which is surely a more reasonable expectation. To do this, Stephen will have to give up his tranquil center. I will take some time to show how Joyce may well have left a door open for Stephen, though it is one hidden so that Stephen may never see it until it is too late.
Cranly expresses one of the reasons Stephen feels wracked by guilt regarding the death of his mother in Chapter V of Portrait. There, Cranly says, "Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother's love is not" (Joyce 2003, 263). Michael Zimmerman has argued that "Stephen seems ready to agree with Cranly's assertion" (1975, 59) and yet the text does not quite read that way. Instead, Stephen plays resistor in Portrait of the Artist, citing Pascal and Aloysius Gonzaga as men who would not suffer the kiss of their mothers. Cranly calls them all pigs, eventually rebutting Stephen's claim that Jesus himself had "treated his mother with scant courtesy in public," by asking whether it had occurred to Stephen that Jesus was not who he had pretended to be. "The first person to whom that idea occurred, Stephen answered, was Jesus himself" (Joyce 2003, 263). Zimmerman (1975, 59) is correct, however, when he argues that Joyce has woven the theme of mother love into Ulysses so that it expresses an ambiguous double meaning, a double meaning recognized by Stephen in the phrase amor matris. Following the riddle in Ulysses, the answer repressed in a silent expression of guilt, Stephen is shown to disdainfully help a student, Cyril Sargeant, complete a series of arithmetic problems. During the exchange, Stephen cannot pull himself from thoughts of his mother, and Cyril serves as a foil by which Stephen seemingly recalls Cranly's words from Portrait. Stephen thinks, "Yet someone had loved him, borne him in her arms and in her heart" (Joyce 1986, 23). He then shows recognition of the double-meaning amor matris by observing, "subjective and objective genitive" (23). Zimmerman's article renders the ambiguity succinctly, that it expresses both "the mother's love for the child (subjective) and the child's love for its mother (objective)" (1975, 59). In his own conflicted way, Stephen might actually be sympathizing with young Cyril. Although he does not speak or think in an obviously favorable way about the boy, it is nevertheless true that by thinking on Cyril's supposed wretchedness Stephen has come around to the certainty of mother's love, and even that his own mother must love him, Stephen, who is himself a wretch. Remember, Stephen is, in Cranly's eyes, a pig for scorning his mother. If Stephen protests too much, it is because he knows himself to be a pig. After all, Cranly had shown great insight into Stephen's character: "It is a curious thing... Cranly said dispassionately, how your mind is supersaturated with the religion in which you say you disbelieve" (Joyce 2003, 261). It is because of this supersaturation, which I think Cranly correctly diagnoses in Portrait, that I claim Stephen must endure a painful separation from Christianity if he is to become the self-creating artist. Part of this painful separation, however, will be learning his own limitations, and thereby living up his namesake, Daedelus, who knew very well the limitations of his own designs, unlike his son Icarus. In this sense, Stephen will have to sacrifice part of his grand design, and this brings our attention to the other half of Stephen's name, his connection to St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
St. Stephen was stoned to death for making a speech to the Sanhedrin (comprising nearly the whole of Acts chapter seven). One of the main themes of his speech is the history of Israel. This fact appears to us serendipitously now that we have considered the consequences of Stephen's philosophy of history for the ultimate potentiality of his character. Further, St. Stephen's arguments include the idea that God is not contained in one building only, the Temple, and that God was with different Biblical figures at different times regardless of the existence, non-existence, or any relation to the Temple at all. God, or the unmoved mover, is not confined by cultural spaces, by institutions, rites, and the like. God is free. St. Stephen then turns to castigate the crowd, saying in Acts 7:52-53, "Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers. You are the ones the received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it" (NOAB).
We have seen Stephen striving for freedom, a freedom he has circumspectly attributed to the divine, though he has done so through a pre-Christian divine that functions, in Aristotle, more like a divine way of seeing or looking at something. At this point, note the Greek theoria can mean to view a spectacle or show. Stephen certainly plays the part of theoretician, sitting back to observe the show, and yet is still not ready to take up the mantle of responsibility that comes with being a creator. He is not ready to face the angry crowd as all those with vision must inevitably face it. Considering Stephen's namesake, this time of the first martyr, in conjunction with St. Stephen's words to the Sanhedrin regarding the prophets, it would do us well to know that Blake too considers the Vision of the prophets in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
Blake writes of the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, saying "I asked them how they dared so roundly to assert. that God spake to them; and whether they did not think at the time, that they would be misunderstood, & so be the cause of imposition" (1977, 186). Blake is questioning the prophets as the mouthpiece of the divine, those who possess Vision and are therefore an opening to the eternal and unchanging, which, as I have been suggesting, is not quite what Stephen hopes it to be. Isaiah gives the first and telling response: "Isaiah answer'd. I saw no God. nor heard any, in infinite organical perception; but my senses discover'd the infinite in every thing, and as I was then perswaded, & remain confirm'd; that the voice of honest indignation is the voice of God, I cared not for consequences but wrote" (186). Stephen lacks this persuasion and conviction. Inflected through Heidegger this reads as a lack of authenticity, and indeed, it is only through particular beings that have meaning for us that the meaning of Being can be disclosed. The voice of Stephen's indignation is not honest. Just look at how he treats the offense committed by Buck Mulligan in the first episode of Ulysses, when Buck says Stephen's mother is "beastly dead."
Buck begins a lengthy retort by asking rhetorically "And what is death... your mother's or yours or my own?" Joyce betrays Stephen, writing, when Buck insists that he did not mean to offend the memory of Stephen's mother, "Stephen, shielding the gaping wounds which the words had left in his heart, said very coldly: / -I am not thinking of the offence to my mother." Buck naturally inquires as to the real offense, to which Stephen responds, "Of the offences to me" (Joyce 1986, 7-8). Stephen is disingenuous. He is using his pride as a shield, and his expression is in bad faith, just as he had previously been shown repressing the maternal reference in the riddle. Stephen still cares very much for the consequences of his self-creating desires. Can he make an escape?
Stephen has yet to realize the impossibility of his absolute and radical freedom. It is a lesson he must learn, and I would argue that he has the tools at his disposal to achieve the temperance of his desires. Both Blake and Aristotle could help him. First, as he overcomes Christianity, he must also overcome his own sophomoric philosophical interpretations. It is at this moment that Joyce uses his depiction of Stephen to forward a powerful philosophical position on historicity, one that stands in the post-Kantian tradition of Nietzsche, and prefigures the insights of Heidegger's antihumanism in which the subjective cogito is displaced as the ground of meaning and significance. Here, Joyce uses Stephen to stake out a position between Blake and Aristotle, one that allows for a radically novel artistic vision, while at the same time recognizing the deep historical embeddedness from which any new creation must proceed, and against which the new becomes recognizable as such. The question of transcendence appears again as the opening door through which Stephen might stage an escape. The connection to Heidegger is reinforced here and Joyce provides a literary iteration of the ontological insight into Being as time, thus transvaluing transcendence into a horizontal (horizonal) phenomenon wherein Stephen transcends, not toward some ideal being, but transcends in the very act of self-overcoming, in his very over-stepping of his old self. How does Stephen overcome? How does he transcend his own delusions in a temporal movement?
While Larrissy (2006, 56-57) fixates on the epiphanic moment at the end of Stephen Hero, he does not draw out the movement of transcendence we see repeated in the "Circe" episode of Ulysses, which can be read as the "breaking point" at which Stephen moves beyond his own confines and opens the space wherein he can begin to take responsibility for shaping himself as the artist. Prior to the moment with the chandelier, Stephen had envisioned some set mold for himself, cast between the likenesses of Blake and Aristotle, as some entity toward which he strove and whose being would be achieved in the act of transcendence. He was an ontotheologian, in Heidegger's sense. But by resolving on his own potential, and having developed his own unique insight by the synthesis of his two angels, the transcendence he achieves is an immanent one, his very over-stepping itself, achieved at last in an authentic resolve to take up his own possibilities within history. In that scene, we can see one last and oft neglected aspect of Stephen's namesake.
Alfred Burns, exploring the power of oral poetry in preserving history, points to another less well-known work of Daedalus (1975, 1-2). At Knossos, Daedalus is reputed to have made a clearing and built a wide floor upon which were performed dances in honor of Ariadne. It is by Ariadne's thread that Theseus navigates the Labyrinth that Daedalus built. Let us too follow this thread as we attempt to find a way to the transformation of transcendence resulting from Stephen's struggle with Blake and Aristotle. The Homeric passage of interest to Burns was shown by Karoly Kerenyi (1968, 1024) to have preserved a form of Minoan-Mycenaean Greek found in formulaic poems of a time pre-dating Homer, and therefore, preserves, not just the culture of Minoan-Mycenaean Greeks, but their language as well. Burns relies heavily on this insight into the preservation of historical forms in his arguments. My concern here is not so much with historic preservation as with its creation, specifically, of the creation of a sacred space or clearing by Daedalus. After all, it is Stephen Dedalus who wants to "forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race." Stephen reveals it is his mother that has inspired him in the quest to be his own creator--she, a Daughter of Inspiration. Stephen writes,
Mother is putting my new secondhand clothes in order. She prays now, she says, that I may learn in my own life and away from home and friends what the heart is and what it feels. Amen. So be it. Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. (Joyce 2003, 275-76)
It is his memory of a dead inspiration that stifles Stephen even as he himself betrays the spirit of his mother's love, expressed in her prayers for him. In Ulysses the prayers of Stephen's mother are a burden, the weight of his guilt hangs on his refusal to pray with her. Yet, his mother's prayers for him are precisely prayers for his release, for his freedom and transcendence. The tension expressed by the phrase "new secondhand clothes" cannot be mistaken. That history enters the scene again, but is renewed upon this reappearance, and so remains new, even when it comes about secondhand. Doubtful Stephen would himself sense this historical connection, disdainful as he is proud of that which enables him to experience "for the millionth time" the actuality of the possible as possible. For, as he should have learned from Aristotle, all the world is possibility, possibility sown in motion and wedded to it.
Yet, this potentiality is connected to place, to Ireland, as the goal of Stephen's travels seem always to be directing him ultimately back toward Ireland, to reshape it, to create for it a new and open sacred space, one that we may now see as being, in part, an honor to his mother. In a convincing study of Joyce's two surviving Trieste lectures, Jonathan Mulrooney provides a sharp analysis of Stephen as an expression of Joyce's relationship to Irish nationalism, writing, "Taken together, the two surviving Trieste lectures powerfully represent the young Joyce's ambivalence toward contemporary Irish identity politics in both its Celtic and Catholic versions, and his desire to construct a culturally critical aesthetic that was yet uniquely Irish as part of an alternative to those politics" (2001, 163). Part of my effort heretofore has been to show Stephen, both in name and deed, reaching beyond those Christian and Celtic sources of Irish identity to Greek and pre-Christian sources, such as Aristotle, or to sources not exactly Irish but which Joyce has appropriated for Ireland (Blake via Yeats and Ellis) who themselves are seeking to overcome Christianity through new emphasis on the tradition and a "marriage of heaven and hell." Like Mulrooney, Larrissy seeks insight in the Trieste lectures, particularly those on Blake and Defoe, where Joyce contrasts Defoe to St. John the Evangelist on Patmos, ending the lecture with the famous observation that, "Crusoe saw but one marvel in all the fertile creation that surrounded him, a naked footprint in the virgin sand: and who knows if the latter does not matter more than the former?" (Larrissy 2006, 59; Joyce 2000, 174-75). I agree with Larrissy's argument that the question is purely rhetorical, that Joyce clearly prefers the footprint in the sand over the "walls of the eternal city" (Joyce 2000, 174). Further, under such an interpretation it is possible to then extend Joyce's comments here to Stephen's struggle and transcendence; the footprint now a clear alternative to ontotheology, the mark of transcendence now left by the very act of overstepping itself, an immanent movement in time that will later be so central to Heidegger's philosophy. (4)
5. HORIZONAL TRANSCENDENCE AND THE ACT OF SELF-OVERCOMING
Burns reported his discovery that the Minoan-Mycenaean scene emblazoned on Achilles' shield was a dance being performed by both men and women together--a dance that would never have been permitted by the mores of Homer's own time (1974-75, 3). Yet the practice and language had survived, showing a prevailing multiplicity that challenged the linguistic homogeneity of the classical Greek. So too, Stephen must learn that he cannot maintain a hegemonic control over his own creation; that he may even be freeing himself to himself in such a way that his own history will always be a major contributor to his road to wisdom and a constraint on his possibilities, which are themselves open to constant historical revision. Thus, Stephen shapes himself through a dynamic historical interplay between past, present, and possible futures yet to be disclosed, yet to come. I have shown this interplay to be depicted as between Blake and Aristotle, but I do not hold my reading to be exhaustive. In fact, we may yet find an open-ended resolution.
By this point it is perhaps obvious that the second connotation of Stephen Dedalus' namesake, the oblique reference to the clearing opened in honor of Ariadne, anticipates and resoundingly resonates with Heidegger's later understanding of Being as the thrown-open clearing, the opening of a place in which beings can stand forth and take on meaning and significance for human beings (Heidegger 2013, 178). What is more, this clearing is one that is held open by the presence of humans; not that we "construct" the clearing, or intentionally build up a meaning, but rather, by our meaningful relation with beings, humans clear up the space and hold that place open so that beings of significance can be shown as the things that they are (Heidegger 2015, 8-9). Just so, the dancers on the sacred platform do not "construct" the space, and even Daedalus the architect required the clearing in which he could mount his project. Thus, Stephen the creator, the artist, holds this clearing open; he clears the way by breaking the chandelier and freeing himself from his self-imposed paralysis. And yet, as creators, the D(a)edaluses take over the responsibility for what is put forth into that clearing, taking up as artists the task of generating the meanings and signification of their designs within that open space, in that place that called them at last to action. Joyce depicts Stephen doing so, in part, through the help of Aristotle, and in life Heidegger attempted the same--to think through Aristotle in his own original way, partaking in an interplay by which Being could be thought anew as the temporal opening of history wherein things show forth and take on meaning for human beings (Heidegger, 2009, 1995). Stephen's appropriation of Aristotle, an appropriation that is also a preparation for his creative act, occurs as interplay with Blake and at last as a synthesis of these historical thinkers into a new vision that he puts forth once the way has been cleared. Both do so through attentiveness to the problem of time and possibility in Aristotle, and by reaching beyond the Christianization of Western metaphysics in order to overcome that theological grounding and separate themselves from it, the result being a thoroughgoing historization of their philosophical positions. Joyce depicts Stephen's act of transcendence as such an historical interplay, and we see his destructive clearing away of the old in Ulysses; again, a destructive clearing away that anticipates the "deconstruction" of the history of metaphysics promised by Heidegger in Being and Time and carried out in part in a 1927 lecture course (1982).
The end of the "Circe" episode brings us to this moment of profound interplay, where the artist that Stephen would make of himself begins to merge dialogically with the vision of Bloom. Stephen makes a declaration of his dedication to Vision, "Ah mon, par example! The intellectual imagination! With me all or not at all. Non serviam!" (Joyce 1986, 475). Here, Stephen reiterates his pledge not to serve, which has had made previously in Portrait (Joyce 2003, 260). Again, this declaration echoes that of Lucifer, taking us back to the Devil's Proverbs, the Marriage of Heaven and Hell. After repeating his disavowal of servitude in "Circe," Stephen goes on, crying, "No! No! No! Break my spirit, all of you, if you can! I'll bring you all to heel!" Throughout Stephen's outburst "The Mother" is praying for him, even in the "agony of her deathrattle." Then, shouting an allusion to Wagner's mytho-poetic opera Der Ring des Nibelung, Stephen smashes the chandelier, whereupon, "Time's livid final flame leaps and, in the following darkness, ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry" (Joyce 1986, 475). Stephen has cleared a space. He has broken what has been built before him and in this outburst releases himself, though it is not to absolute freedom. He has come around at last to the historical multiplicity beyond his former solipsism, but this means he has also sacrificed himself, the first martyr to his own cause. In Bloom's eyes, we see the reconciliation of Stephen with his mother. Bloom says, "Face reminds me of his poor mother," and then we move forward, and Bloom sees a vision of his dead son, and although the episode closes on a note of anguish and apparent sadness, the scene is set for Stephen and Bloom to carry on in camaraderie, Stephen slowly loosening his grip on the homogeneity he had self-imposed (497).
We should not read this as Stephen's final awakening, nor do these moments in Ulysses represent the end of Stephen's struggle. Blake has again been invoked with the "ruin of all space," a reaffirmation of the allusion made in "Nestor." In "Circe," however, the reference appears in a moment of action, at a time of "authentic resolution" (Heidegger 2010, 284-88). Stephen is not distracted, not swept up in the inauthenticity of the They; he is fully engaged. Perhaps here we finally see Stephen, whether for better or worse, take the first steps toward an acknowledgement of the responsibility that comes with being possessed of Vision. I choose these words carefully, for being possessed already breaks the solipsism that threatens Stephen's immature philosophy. He is growing; he is in motion. By breaking the chandelier, Stephen begins the work upon himself that would lead to the fulfillment of his latent aesthetic potential. Aristotle has not left us. The fulfillment of potential remains bound to motion, and Stephen may eventually be able to realize that he cannot remain in a circle, that that is not his role or place. His place is in the world, among others, with them in the clearing creating a sacred language neither Catholic nor Celtic in which they could recognize each other anew. And so it is that we recognize Dasein anew, anticipated here in Joyce's writing, as Joyce himself attempts to make sense of his own place in the work through the autobiographical treatment of Stephen--a character, a being, whose own being is an issue for it. The theoretical elements usually associated with the transformed transcendence of Dasein in Heidegger's work are nascent in Ulysses, the exemplary modernist novel. Perhaps this brings us back again to the question of modernity, a question that outstrips the current essay, but wherein the derivative nature of post-modernity is already at play.
(1) Although the relevance of St. Aquinas' thought to Joyce is beyond the purview of this essay, the 1957 book-length study, Joyce and Aquinas by Father William T. Noon details the importance of the German interpretation of the Scholastics, and of Hegel in particular. This line of thought was picked up and further elaborated by Jacques Aubert in The Aesthetics of James Joyce.
(2) It must be noted here that Blake's "Proverbs" are written in the voice of the Devil. In a work satirical in nature, we should be careful not to automatically ascribe these statements to Blake. However, in the context of Ulysses and the character of Stephen Dedalus' orientation by and toward Blake, there seems to be significant weight given to these words as something authentic and earnest, as I will show throughout this paper.
(3) It was, after all, Daedalus who soared on his own wings, and yet did not soar too high. Stephen Dedalus shares his surname with the Daedalus of Greek mythology, who made a set of wings so that he and his son, Icarus, could escape imprisonment on the island of Crete. Daedalus is credited with the design of the Labyrinth, which King Minos of Crete had demanded be built to hide away his deformed son, the Minotaur. Having designed the Labyrinth, Daedalus knew its secrets and thus the way in and out, and for that reason was imprisoned by King Minos so to better protect the Minotaur from discovery. Using the wings he designs, both Daedalus and Icarus escape from Crete, however, Daedalus flies at a moderate altitude while Icarus soars too high. The heat of the sun melts the wax which holds the wings together, and Icarus famously plunges to his death for having flown too close to the sun. With this bit of Greek mythology in mind, the connection between Blake's proverb and Stephen Dedalus becomes clear.
(4) We can see the anticipation of postmodern philosophical positions yet again in this preference for the footprint in the sand, which is later echoed by Foucault's famous statement at the end of The Order of Things, in which we imagine the dissolution of subjectivity itself, "like a face drawn in the sand at the edge of the sea" (1994, 387).
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DONOVAN IRVEN is Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Midwestern State University. He is the author of The Ontological I and Other Essays (2012) and two novels, Things in Brown Paper (2012) and Two Days of Dying (2011). His research focuses on phenomenology, existential philosophy, and literary modernism.
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|Title Annotation:||James Joyce and Martin Heidegger|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2018|
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